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Spring Break 2020 – Part II

January 8, 2022 am31 2:04 am

Part I: Cuomo took away Spring break. Five days. Mulgrew backed him up. Then de Blasio took away the first day of Passover and Good Friday, and Mulgrew went ballistic. The DoE unilaterally gave us 4 sick days as compensation – we took the days but did not accept that they were compensation. Every Town Hall and Delegate Assembly since Mulgrew has been hounded with questions about Spring Break 2020. When arbitrations started again, the UFT leadership put this one in. And this week the ruling came…

So the ruling is here: spring-break-arbitration-decision. What did we get? What should we have got? What are the details?

The ruling introduces a new kind of day – a vacation day. A vacation day is different than a sick day because 1) it can be used without providing a reason, and 2) Vacation Days can be used at any time, with some school based approval/disapproval, and 3) left over days are paid out, at retirement, at full value (instead of 2:1 like CAR days).

Those 4 CAR days they already “gave us” will be converted to Vacation Days. And then we will get up to 3 more Vacation Days. The total each one of us will end up with will be equal to the number of days each of us worked.

People who separated from service will get a payout.


Some Days are Worth More than Others

The arbitrator, Scheinman got it wrong.

I find. restoration of the lost, unencumbered paid Vacation Days is the more appropriate remedy for what the employees lost, namely, rest time.


Accordingly, crediting employees with paid Vacation Days that can be used in the future would both limit the cost to the Department (as the cost of substitute coverage is generally lower and any payments after separation would be spread out) and more accurately reflect the loss opportunity to spend time away from work in whatever manner the employee chose when Spring Recess was cancelled.

If you miss your kid’s birthday, visiting the next day doesn’t make up for it. Not all time is equal. Scheinman chooses not to get it. Spring Break 2020 was lost, taken from us. That was a very specific time, and the loss and the insult are a function of that time. We were overwhelmed with the world and the pandemic and trying to figure out remote learning. We were tired and drained and having trouble continuing. Yes we lost time – THAT TIME. An equivalent number of days years down the road does not remedy what happened to us then. Money would have also fallen short, but come far closer.


And what of the monetary argument? Read these three unedited consecutive sentences:

The Union argued in the first instance the proper means of compensation is to pay employees who worked during the Spring Recess 1/200 of their annual salary at the time of payment for each additional day worked.

The Department estimates this remedy will cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

While I understand the rationale for this approach in light of the ongoing pandemic, the need to continuously respond to changing circumstances and consideration of the potential cost to the Department, I find. restoration of the lost, unencumbered paid Vacation Days is the more appropriate remedy for what the employees lost, namely, rest time.

  1. The UFT argued we should get paid
  2. The Department says it costs too much
  3. Vacation days are more appropriate.

Scheinman accepts “costs too much” and moves on, without the slightest question. We got jobbed.

Vacation Days

And where did he get the vacation day idea from? That question we know the answer to. The UFT leadership suggested it. Think about it, the DoE says “CAR days only” the UFT says “we want money” and Scheinman says “one of you has to roll over” – and the UFT leadership says “us first!”

Could I be making this up? Read for yourself:

In the alternative, given my preliminary indication monetary compensation did not seem to be the only way to address the purported inequity suffered by the represented employees, I asked for other possible remedies to ensure employees receive equal value for the vacation time lost. In this regard, the Union believes an appropriate remedy is to provide credited paid Vacation Days to employees who worked during the Spring Recess.

He asked for other remedies, and the union (not the DoE) was the one that made the offer.


The union’s UFT leadership thought they had a win with these vacation days. A few days later, and they probably know that the reaction was mixed.

People who already retired or are about to retire are getting cash for the days, essentially right away. That’s a win.

People not close to retirement did not get cash. I mean, eventually it can become cash – but that’s pretty far from the event. They did get vacation days. And no matter what you think of the agreement as a whole, vacation days ARE better than CAR days.

People who took off Good Friday or Passover got screwed. Say we all have 100 CAR days. We used none, and got 7 vacation. We are at 100 + 7. Your Good Friday colleague? -1 CAR for Good Friday, and then 6 vacation. So 99 + 6. Your colleague ends up two days behind you, just for taking one day.

Bottom line – we deserved cash – and the UFT’s negotiators gave ground on that, and asked for vacation days instead.

Ruling, not Settlement

The UFT did not choose the outcome. Not completely. They suggested vacation days. That was a big choice.

Could they have done anything else?

I saw somewhere else a suggestion for phone banking or mobilizing members around safety. Would that have changed things had we taken those actions around Spring Break? Probably not. But members WERE angry enough that they were willing to be organized. And we could have phone banked and gotten lots of UFTers to email politicians. We could have organized a few press conferences en masse. When the members are ready to be mobilized, are waiting for leadership, good leadership would provide those outlets and make that happen.

What about not bringing up vacation days at all? That’s an interesting question. I would, if I decided any of these, have posed it to the membership – should we stick with demanding money, knowing we may get nothing, or should we blink, and take vacation days? I don’t know which way the membership would have gone. A vacation day is positive. But perhaps more members would want the union hang tough on money. Hell, a lot of members would be glad to see the UFT leadership hang tough on anything.

On a scale of 0 to 10

0 nothing new, just the four CAR days we’d already gotten

1 Three more CAR days (seven in total)

2 An eighth CAR day

3. Three vacation days, and convert 4 CAR to vacation


5. Seven vacation days. Bank the CAR days

6. An eighth vacation day.

7. Cash for three days

8. Cash for seven days, return the CAR days

9. Cash for seven days, keep the CAR days

10. Cash for seven days, plus a financial bonus.

Unity got us a 3 on my 10 point scale. Vacation days are good. But they are not what we deserved.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    March 23, 2022 pm31 4:55 pm 4:55 pm

    “People who already retired or are about to retire are getting cash for the days, essentially right away. That’s a win.” But not if they paid out for 4 days – check received, 3/23 – instead of the 7 I was owed after my retirement in 2021.

    • March 23, 2022 pm31 5:10 pm 5:10 pm

      They paid just 4 days? Was there any explanation?


  1. The answer is “Mulgrew, Medicare, Pandemic” | JD2718

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